Why does Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba need a $50 million compound in Malibu?

Your gurl Yolanda is booking it out of town for the weekend. We can’t stand this dreary weather, sorry. Time for a quick desert vacay. We’re gonna do it big. We’re gonna shimmer in the sunlight. And we won’t be back ’til late Monday (at the earliest). But before we go, we want to leave y’all with something real juicy to whet your (reading) appetite for our return. What, you thought your chick would leave you hangin’? Come on now. We’re always here for you beotches. And we think we’ve got just the ticket today. Here’s some fresh-squeezed rumor and gossip.

But before we begin, let us make something quite clear. This will be a long, rambling post that will not involve any Hollywood celebrities. Or anyone you’ve ever heard of, most likely. Unless you happen to be interested in or connected to the A-list political social circles in Washington. So if you’re looking for some Kardashian- or Blohan-related real estate tragedies, you might as well hit Alt + F4 right now. Go on. We promise we won’t shed a single tear.

Now then. Malibu, baby. Palm trees chattering to each other in the gentle breeze, rolling hills artfully blemished by gurgling creeks and craggy jungle-like ravines. Sun-streaked blue seas.

Just beneath all that outward beauty, something dark and sinister lurks. Up on Point Dume – the city’s most prominent oceanside promontory, on the very edge of the highest cliff, a tip-top-secret lair is vigorously under construction. Untold tens of millions have been spent – and are still being spent – to cobble together a beast. The enigmatic mastermind behind the monster has carefully disguised his footprints to prevent any media leakage, yet whispers of the grim secret emanate from behind the hedges and tall, guarded gates.

For months, dozens of workers have arrived at a construction site by dawn, where they are quickly hustled behind high walls, out of sight from any prying eyes, then tossed out just as rapidly at dusk. Though the workers are many and the hours long, it will be months before the daunting project is complete. After all, there are two once-separate properties to tear down, rebuild, and combine cohesively. When finished, the compound will undoubtedly be one of the most expensive in the city – perhaps even the king to rule them all. But why the near-impenetrable veil of secrecy?

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29150 Cliffside Drive, sold for $33,500,000 to “Nabisco Holdings S.A.”, a British Virgin Islands offshore company

Let’s reflect on the past. One of the best properties on Point Dume has long been the ornate abode at 29150 Cliffside Drive, with its resort hotel-like mega-mansion, generous 1.22-acre lot, and sweeping views far down cliffs and coastline.

In August 2000, the property was sold by “Married With Children” producer Arthur Silver to an entrepreneur named Steve Goldman and his wife Azita who became massively wealthy (and cashed out) during the dot-com bubble. Despite the fact that Mr. Silver had only built the house a year prior, the Goldmans made numerous renovations and improvements to the property during their 14 years of ownership. According to public records, the Mediterranean house now contains 26 rooms in at least 12,000 or perhaps as much as 15,000 square feet, depending on where you look.

(For more photos of the estate, go here.)

Mr. Goldman is so rich that he bought a nearby mansion on Point Dume and turned it into a garage for his multi-million dollar automobile collection. That’s right. Mr. Goldman built (and still owns to this day) another Point Dume mansion that’s not a mansion at all – it’s one gigantic, world-class garage. How insane is that?

But we digress. The Goldmans attempted to unload their blufftop showstopper in March 2014, asking $34,500,000. The property was marketed extensively everywhere and graced several magazine covers. One of those covers happens to be sitting on a shelf in Yolanda’s office. Just FYI.

In August 2014, the property was unceremoniously yanked off the MLS, never to return. Just five days after the removal, public records show the property sold for a tremendous $33,500,000 – easily the biggest sale for a single parcel in Point Dume. Ever. The buyer was listed as a strangely-named offshore corporation incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. Yolanda also heard from a very good source that Malibu mega-agent Chris Cortazzo had not just one but both sides of this deal. You go, boy.

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29140 Cliffside Drive, sold for $12,225,000 to “Setara Limited”, a British Virgin Islands offshore company

As if all that intrigue wasn’t enough to pique Yolanda’s interest, the much-smaller (2,703 square feet) modern-ish house on 1.1 acres next door sold nearly a year later (July 2015) for $12,225,000 to a different but no less oddly-named offshore corporation. Within a few months, both properties had been ripped apart and were feverishly being modified to combine the two structures into one tremendous estate.

Let’s pause for just a moment. We’re going to do things a little differently today. Your gurl likes to keep it fresh in this bitch, after all. Usually when Yolanda is “revealing” the identity of a mysterious buyer, she begins with a history of the home, the previous owners, then gradually works her way to the most recent sale. Then BAM! We love to bang you over the head with our secret. Is that really lame? Sorry. Yolanda’s just a dramatic lass. She’s gotta have drama in her life at all times, even with the most mundane things.

But like we say, today is different. We’re giving you the dirty details right off the bat. Based on everything we know, have heard, and have seen, we very strongly believe it is His Excellency Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba who is building the top-secret $50 million+ compound up in Malibu. For those of you who may not know, His Excellency has been the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) ambassador to the USA since 2008.

At this point, you might think Yolanda is crazy or drunk or smoking crack yet again. And we are. All three of ’em. Don’t judge. “But why should I trust what this crazy blogging ho is babbling about? She probably made all this sh*t up while doing her sh*t on the crapper,” is a slightly modified version of what you’re thinking, most likely.

Fair enough. We respect your opinion and we won’t force you to believe that His Excellency is building a $50 million compound up here. But at least let Yolanda share with you all the facts she has gathered – all easily verifiable – before you rush to judgment on this matter. Sound like a plan? After all, Yolanda may be a filthy, nasty, crazy old ho but she knows high-end LA real estate.

Fact #1: This house was yanked off the MLS just days prior to the sale. When that happens, babies, it’s almost always an indicator that the buyer or seller is a famous or high-profile person. 99% of the time. You can research that yourself (okay, it may not be 99%, but it’s certainly a wide majority.) And the seller here, Mr. Goldman, was not famous in any way. So what does that tell you?

Fact #2. Fine, you might be saying, the buyer is someone high-profile. Big whoop. How is that any indication whatsoever that it’s Mr. Al Otaiba?

Let’s examine something here. As we mentioned previously, the big house was sold for $33,500,000 to a BVI-incorporated offshore company. (We’re pretty damn sure the sale was all-cash – we find no record of a loan or mortgage.) Said offshore company gives a legal address at a small financial advisory firm located in Montreux, Switzerland. That firm was founded a few years ago by a British ex-pat named Mr. Evans. Interestingly enough, Mr. Evans resided for 20+ years in the United Arab Emirates, where he was a longtime senior partner at PwC.

Did y’all catch that? Fact is, Mr. Evans spent a significant amount of time – indeed, the majority of his career – living and working in a very prominent role in the UAE. It was only within the last 10 years that he decamped to Switzerland to establish his own startup firm.

Of course, that doesn’t prove anything. Mr. Evans’ client in this particular instance couple be practically anyone with $33.5 million in cash to drop on a house. But given Mr. Evans’ background, wouldn’t you say the likelihood that his client hails from the UAE is quite high? Yolanda would. But again, that’s just us.

Fact #3: While we’re flattered if y’all think Yolanda could make up a story about the Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba spending $50 million cash in Malibu, we couldn’t. We ain’t that imaginative. Fact. Sorry.

The other fact is that people are whispering. We’ve heard from two completely different folks (one who’s worked onsite recently and someone else who we’ve been doing “business” with a long time, and both have dropped Mr. Al Otaiba’s name). And they would know, kiddies. We’ve even been shown a document copy that directly links Mr. Al Otaiba’s name to this estate. Though we can’t prove nothin’, Yolanda is personally quite certain that we’ve found our boy.

Fact #4: “So both houses are next door to each other, and both were purchased by different BVI companies in the past year,” you might say. “You can’t possibly prove the same person owns both.”

On the face of it, that’s true. The two offshore companies have totally different names and link to completely different addresses. Nabisco links to the aforementioned Swiss address and Setara gives an address at a very small Los Angeles law firm headed by a not-particularly well-known attorney. On paper, the only relation that these two companies have to one another is that they were both incorporated in the British Virgin Islands and happen to own houses on the very same street in Malibu.

So maybe we can’t prove it, baby, but you’d have to be a little kookoo to think the houses aren’t owned by the same individual. Why? Check this out. Take a look at the sign below. At this very second, that mini-billboard is posted out in front of the property for all to see. The sign clearly shows that both properties are destined to become one cohesive compound. Plus, if you have the chance to venture onto the construction site, we’ve been told it’s quite obvious that the barriers (walls, hedges) between the two structures are being removed.

But anyway, the sign calls out a list of teams involved in this massive project. In addition to the lawyers and financial advisors, there are a lot of people getting paid a lot of money for all of this construction.

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– Landscape architect
– Contractor
– Interior designer
– Architect
– Construction management

Take a minute to think about that, y’all. This project is employing dozens of people from some of the most expensive firms in their respective fields. These aren’t unknown architects, contractors, or landscapers. Far from it. All of these firms are prominent, well-respected folks who most certainly do not come cheap. Total base fees for these five listed companies alone on a project like this? Millions. Easily. Trust Yolanda on that. We know these things.

Can you wrap your brain around all this so far? Whoever is building up on 29140 & 29150 Cliffside has so far spent a total of $45,725,000 on the land alone. Then there’s the demolition and rebuilding fees, salaries, and all the other crap. We think $10 million for this project is a very conservative estimate, honestly.

Only three Malibu homes have ever sold for more than $50 million. All have been massive, thoroughly renovated compounds on 4 acres of land or more. Now here’s someone who’s spending well over $50 million to construct a trophy compound on just 2.32 acres. No doubt those are two very valuable acres of land. But if you ask Yolanda, it’s far more than what a place like that is really worth. So your gurl has to ask why. Why? Why would someone dump so much cash into a residence? And especially when both properties, particularly the 29150 Cliffside mansion, were already in top-notch shape. Why would you spend unnecessary millions just to gut and rebuild them? Just for fun? Hmmm. We don’t know.

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But anyway, we wanted to know a little more about His Excellency’s background. We do “research” about all the folks we discuss on this blog, after all. Since 2008, Mr. Al Otaiba has resided primarily at the UAE ambassador’s residence in the D.C. suburb of McLean, Virginia. In 2009, he and his wife Abeer had the home worked over into a more modern and comfortable space by big-time interior designer Joan Behnke, no doubt at considerable expense.

Listen kids, His Excellency is a very rich man. There’s absolutely no doubt about that. His entrepreneurial father owns a huge palace in Abu Dhabi, was the country’s first oil minister, and the family has long wielded a great deal of influence in the area. But (allegedly!) spending $50+ million in cash on a Malibu mansion? That’s a whole different ball game. People are bound to scrutinize that shit. Could that be why this has been kept so quiet? Could be. But who knows, right? We’ll need that info from our boy.

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“I can be your rentboy!”

Mr. Otaiba also has a reputation for exceedingly generous charitable contributions to a whole host of philanthropic causes. He’s also well-known for his penchant to throw extravagant parties for his select circle of high-powered Washington politico contacts. There was that one time he flew Wolfgang Puck from LA to his Virginia home to cook dinner for his family and a few guests. You know. Just your typical, everyday dinner party.

As it happens, Yolanda was researching His Excellency when we discovered something interesting – or at least interesting to us. His Excellency is (allegedly) besties with our very own boy Jho Low. In fact, His Excellency has (allegedl) been involved in several business deals with the very shady (and extensively legally-embattled) Mr. Low. He and Mr. Low are – or were – both significant shareholders in something called the Abu Dhabi-Kuwait-Malaysia Investment Corporation (ADKMIC), a British Virgin Islands-registered investement company. That’s according to Mr. Low himself, not Yolanda.

ADKMIC is believed to have majority control of one of Malaysia’s largest banks. So His Excellency has – or had – clear business ties both to Malaysia and Mr. Low himself. He’s been termed a longtime “associate” of Mr. Low, whose numerous bank accounts worldwide are currently frozen as he is investigated for money laundering by at least six different countries.

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BFFs?

Mr. Low, as you should already know, is believed to have looted Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund (1MDB) of at much as $6 billion since 2009. Approximately $3.5 billion of those dollars were reportedly funneled to a mysterious offshore company in the British Virgin Islands calling itself “Aabar Investments PJS Limited”, which has since been dissolved. This Aabar Investments happens to have a nearly name as an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund named “Aabar Investemtents PJS”, though the Abu Dhabi firm has denied having any connection to the BVI firm or to the funds.

Who the shareholders of the BVI Aabar Investments are, and where the $3.5 billion in looted funds went is anyone’s guess, though we imagine investigators worldwide are frantically researching that as part of the global corruption inquiry into the increasingly all-encompassing scandal that is 1MDB.

Of course, this all has nothing to do with His Excellency’s (alleged!) $50 million compound in Malibu. It’s just interesting reading about the shockingly-massive illicit funds that continue to float around our world. Dirty money is everywhere, beotches. Remember that.

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So, Your Excellency, won’t you come sit on Yolanda’s lap up in here? Talk to your gurl. Is this your Malibu compound? And if it ain’t, why does your name keep coming up in connection to it, everywhere we turn? Let’s sort this shit out. We got your best interests at heart. And we always love the truth.

And to the rest of our readers: we’ve told you everything we know. You are now free to mull this one over and make your own decisions. Yolanda knows what she believes. Could she be wrong? Perhaps. It’s always possible that our two trustworthy hoes could be lying, that the documentation we’ve seen could’ve been forged, and that the circumstantial evidence is just that – circumstantial. We doubt that’s the case, but there’s always a chance that could be.

So what we are saying is this is really all just a ton of rumor and gossip. If you don’t feel like trusting an old bag like Yolanda, that’s okay. We promise we won’t lose a wink of beauty sleep over it.

But even if we are wrong about His Excellency’s ownership, you guys, there’s something fishy in Denmark. Someone has gone to a hell of a lot of trouble to cover their tracks here. Yes, very rich people often like to stay anonymous. But this – this level of deliberate opacity is practically beyond anything we’ve ever witnessed in LA. There’s gotta be a reason for the deafening silence. Whoever the owner is, for whatever reason they’re spending so much money up there on Point Dume, there’s a story there. A big story. A really big story.

Perhaps sometime in the next couple years, one of the big professional journalists will pick it up and turn it into real breaking news. If and when that happens, and you read it on some headline somewhere, don’t forget it was your chick Yolanda who first popped open that can of worms. You hear? Your gurl was on this shit from day one. That’s just how we roll. And that’s – wait for it – another damn fact.

Oh, Malibu. Sweet Malibu. Your hills, your beach, your waves. Wave after shimmering wave. Have you ever seen anything so bright, so glittering, that was somehow so… dark? Well, perhaps a solar eclipse. But you really shouldn’t be looking at those.

1 Comment

  1. Rabbi Hedda LaCasa says: Reply

    Thank you for another astute and rigorous geopolital investigation that just happens to include luxury real estate! Within a couple of years, or sooner, you could be that big professional journalist breaking this story to The Gray Lady.

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